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Go beyond talk to ensure road safety

By The Standard | January 23rd 2017

An unmarked road hump at Karai, Naivasha, led to the deaths of 43 people on the night of December 11, 2016. Sadly, that appears distant today as Kenyans continue to risk their lives with near suicidal abandon.

Travellers along the notorious Sachangwan road section hold their breath as sugarcane hawkers, young and old, carry out their trade right in the middle of the road between speeding vehicles. Hawkers in some areas lay their wares on the sides of narrow bridges where there is no room for escape in cases of an emergency.

Along the Nakuru–Londiani road, and indeed many others, illegal structures that constrict the roads are coming up at an alarming rate. Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) has watched helplessly as citizens erect illegal structures on roads near shopping centres where pedestrians who wander into the road are hit and killed.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive following the Karai accident that all speed humps be marked is yet to be fully implemented as avoidable accidents continue to claim life and limb. A 2016 National Transport and Safety Authority report reveals 1,585 people died in road accidents between January and June 2016, representing a 5.7 per cent rise in a similar period the previous year.

Driver apathy, pedestrian negligence, vandalism of guard rails and road signs, illegal speed humps and unmarked road works continue to cause accidents. Urbanisation has put demand on electricity and water connections that at times interfere with roads as trenches are dug to lay them. Refilling the trenches is done in a haphazard manner.

Huge mounds of soil and rocks placed across a road sometimes surprise motorists with disastrous results. This calls for decisive action away from the tough talk only when accidents occur. More effort is required to minimise road deaths and enhance safety for road users. Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) and other bodies must prove they are equal to the task.

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